Charlotte's Bed and Breakfast

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

Charlotte was a lonely middle aged widow, that decided to follow her dream and convert her home into a welcoming bed and breakfast...once the construction work started a grim discovery was made...

Charlotte’s Bed and Breakfast

By

Sharief Hendricks

As Charlotte made up her bed, she longingly caressed the side on which her husband used to sleep. It’s been seven years since Robert last slept on his side of the Sealy. Her loving husband traded his marital bed for a permanent one made from mourning pine.  

Charlotte was tired of living alone in a big house situated on a massive property that no longer felt like home. Her two boys were both married and had long since moved out and moved on. She rarely saw them since their father’s accident. Robert Junior, her eldest, visited his mother at least twice a year. She had not laid eyes on Adam, her youngest, since the birth of her second grandchild. Charlotte quit her job ten years shy of retirement age. She decided to pursue her dream of being an entrepreneur. No more breaking her back by working late nights and early mornings, for people who did not appreciate her sacrifices but who profited from it. The time had come for her to put all her effort into creating her wealth and happiness.

She had long wanted to own an Inn or a small roadside motel. Even though she was tired of working for a boss, she still loved serving people. Robert loved her more than life itself, but unfortunately, he was her biggest detractor. He did not believe that an accommodation business would take off in the small city of Dennerton. Her lover's harsh words had not lost any of its sting whenever she dared to bring it up in her mind. “Don’t be stupid Charlotte, a B&B will never work, I’m tired of repeating myself, so let it go!”

Charlotte's Bed and Breakfast was the name she finally and proudly decided on. She believed if you put your name on something, you must make it succeed. Everything was on the line, so it had to work as it was a matter of life and death.

With all the space on her property, she could build on five separate cottage rooms with ensuite. It was a constant battle trying to convince her late husband that it was worth attempting. He tragically died in a car chase gone wrong, as police were in pursuit of bank robbers when they crashed into his vehicle. She comforted herself with the hope that Robert was already dead before his car engulfed in flames. She couldn't stand the thought of him having been burnt alive. The damages paid out by the city of Dennerton, albeit seven years late, she used to make her dreams come true.

_______**_______

"Ok, Charlotte, I have good news. The building plans for your B&B are approved, and I got all the necessary municipality permits as well. We are all set to go," said Dave, the friendly, stocky contractor that she hired to build her dream into reality.

"Thank you, Dave, I can't wait to get started," she said wrapping the knitted wool garment around her midsection as a shield against the chill in the autumn air.

“Ok then we will begin the excavation tomorrow morning. Remember Charlotte, once we start to dig and lay the foundation there is no turning back. I told you before I'm grateful for the business, but Dennerton is not exactly ideal for a B&B. It is not a "sleepover" city or a popular tourist destination,” cautioned Dave again as he tucked his hard hat under his arm.

"Yes, thanks for the reminder and the warning Dave, but this is something that I need to prove to myself," she said, letting out a deep sigh.

"Well ok then, as long as you don't want to prove to yourself that you can afford to throw money away."

"As I said, Dave, this is something I must do, for my late husband," scraping the ground with her shoes for the last time before it is dug up and turned into a concrete parking area for her future guest's cars.

"Ok so the B&B was his idea, and you want to keep his legacy alive. I didn't know that. I think that is an honourable thing to do. Most people nowadays who lose a spouse, tend to move on and not want reminders. Yet here you are, wanting to build a monument, of some kind in his honour and to keep his memory alive," said Dave as he and his crew packed up their tools.

"Thanks, Dave, but it is in fact, quite the opposite. For years, my husband told me it was a bad idea and that it won't work. I guess there's only one way to find out if he was right, right?" she raised her eyebrows and shrugged her shoulders.

“Ok, Charlotte, it’s your money, you can do with it what you want."

"Don't worry Dave, your payment is guaranteed. I have an experienced and generous "silent partner" who assured me, our plan will work."

________**________

Five days into the foundation phase, Dave and his crew made a grim discovery.

"Dave what's wrong, why are you so pale and out of breath?"

"Shit Charlotte, we have a big freaking problem!"

Charlotte knew Dave for a few months now but had never seen him look or speak this way. "What’s wrong, Dave, did one of your builders get hurt?"

"No, worst, dead! I mean, not my guys, a dead body, we dug up a body in your yard!"

_________**_________

A week after the discovery of the first dead body on Charlotte's property, Lead Detective Pringle informed her the crime scene was cleared for the time being.  All the remains were preserved and transported to the morgue. She could return home to get the rest of her personal belongings, while he waited for a court order to flatten her entire property and to dig it up because there were still four possible victims unaccounted for. He would have the court order the following day and wanted to give Charlotte the evening to gather her stuff. As passionate and consumed as Pringle was about catching the Rose Killer, the seasoned detective also spared a thought for Charlotte and sympathised with her dilemma, as her life was now upside down. He assured her that she was not in any danger because the Rose Killer probably killed and buried his victims in her yard long before she bought the house. He was either the previous owner or the contractor who built it and used it to conceal his victims.

The DNA results were pending, and there was no confirmation of the time of death yet.  Pringle worked the Rose Killer murders for the past 21 years. He was the sole reason it was not a cold case. He knew what the pathologist would eventually confirm. The victims were most likely not all killed at the same time, so it would be a slow process, as multiple autopsies, were required. The stubborn detective knew the final report would read; “strangulation followed by a knife in the heart” for insurance. The foreign objects found with each victim he believed was the killer's calling card, a white rose. It had disintegrated over time, however, there, was a small piece that was usable from one of the body’s and Pringle was hopeful it was enough to determine it was indeed a Damask Rose. The killer left one with each of his victims. It’s also known as Rosa-damascena, one of the most fragrant flowers in the world. Hence the serial killer was dubbed, the Rose Killer.

_________**_________

Charlotte was grateful to Pringle for allowing her to get the rest of her clothes and valuables. She was moving fast under, the cover of impending darkness. Her best friend, Chrissy, agreed to let her stay with her for as long as needed. To utilise every inch of the small Hyundai Getz for her belongings, she didn’t bring Chrissy along to ensure she only made a single trip. She couldn't stand being there any longer than was necessary. It would have been reassuring to have Chrissy along, but she knew that was not a good idea. She had grown tired of her house, but she never feared being alone in it before. The hair on the back of her neck had a language of its own, and she interpreted it fluently. Moving around in the once familiar house, she became aware that her eyes were on steroids and working overtime as they scanned every nook and cranny. She reacted to every little noise the space made, and there were many. She was not alone. She sensed a presence. Someone or something was stalking her, just waiting for the opportune moment to strike and add her to the growing victim count. To steady her trembling hands, she tugged and grabbed everything she reached for as being rough was an antidote for shaking. The noise she made also soothed her nerves because she knew where it was coming from and who made it. The only thing she couldn't shake off was that feeling of being grabbed from behind that forced her head to turn after every other step. She cursed her “silent partner” for talking her into this situation.

Hastily she navigated between the Getz and the kitchen door. She failed to notice the squad car that was stationed in the street to ensure the crime scene was not disturbed had disappeared. Pringle had assured her it would not move. Overcome by paranoia as she was frantically heaving under the weight of the last box, she suddenly stopped and surveyed the incomplete construction site that was once her yard. Her overactive eyelids zoomed over the partially lit freshly laid foundations, of the first three rooms and the pit that was to be room number 4 until it became a mass grave for a sadistic killer's helpless victims. The hole was filled, with steel rebar that reached for the moon. The opening in the ground was covered by black builders sheets that seemed to breathe when the wind passed through the structure and would just as quickly be dead still giving the appearance that there was a floor. When she felt the coast was clear and that there was no sinister presence around, she proceeded with her final trip to her fully-loaded car when she heard that unmistakable deep husky voice, “Hi honey I’m home.”

“No, it can’t be, you are dead!”

"I was until you dug me up. Now I had to come and clean up your mess," came the response from a healthy-looking, well-dressed middle-aged resurrection.

"But Robert, you died, I saw your body. I watched you get buried," said Charlotte fighting the light-headedness and willing her fuzzy vision not to fade to black. “How is this possible?”

“What you saw was what remained of my last victim, I needed a body double because the unsolved homicide squad was getting close. Especially that pesky Pringle, he just couldn’t let it go.”

“So, who died in that horrible police accident Robert?” asked the ex-widow as her arms conceded and the box found itself on the floor.

"I have always been five steps ahead of the cops. You see Charlotte, one of the alcoholic bank robbers had a loose tongue after a few rounds. He told me of the planned bank robbery at FNB. I was the one that called the cops to report a robbery in progress, then all I had to do was wait. When I heard on my police radio that the high-speed chase was on Jones street, my frozen “double” and I made our way out there. I had, of course, soaked the inside of the car with petrol to ensure it burned good. When the bank robbers passed me in their white sedan, I got out and released the handbrake and hid and watched as my double rolled, directly into the path of the speeding cop car. They never had a chance as both cars tumbled over the crash-barrier down the rocky cliffs in a blaze of glory. The rest was, as they say, buried history, that was until you dug me up for your stupid B&B," said the Rose Killer.

“How could you, Robert, kill all those innocent people, how could you!” she spat out the words like fireballs, “to think I loved you and I mourned you!” said Charlotte as lava streamed from her eyes and steam was released from her flaring nostrils.

“Oh no, Charlotte, calm down, it’s not that I didn’t love you, on the contrary, I did what I did because I loved you. I needed to act on my impulses and demonic urges, and oh, believe me, it made me sick to my stomach, but I had to act them out. The last thing I wanted was to have to act them out on you, so I just chose other victims, I could never hurt you Charlotte.”

“Then what is the knife for Robert?”

“What, this?” lifting the blade to the moonlight, “this is nothing,” said her ex dead husband, “think of it as insurance, just in case you refuse my offer to come away with me. I can make it look as if you were kidnapped and killed by a copycat. I have been living the good life off the grid since I died. I promise you will love it,” said the husband from hell, as he admired his trusted blade under one of the forensic crime scene lights.

Even though she thought he was dead, and she has not seen or spoken to him in over seven years, she still knew her husband very well. He was telling the truth. So, she had to go along with him or end up buried in someone’s back yard.

“Ok Robert, I will go with you on one condition.”

"Yes, I'm all ears, honey?”

"I am still in shock that I am speaking with you, it feels like a dream, but I will go with you even though I don't condone what you did. I can't deny a big part of me still loves you and longs for you each day. Promise me wherever we go that I can get my B&B?"

“Oh, my dear Charlotte, where we are going a B&B is a great idea because it is a holiday destination with lots of traffic so we will blend in perfectly, as just another happily married couple enjoying retirement,” grinning with pride.

Charlotte gave her resurrected husband a reassuring smile which was enough for him to drop his guard as he stepped forward onto the thin chipboard covered with black builders sheets concealing room number 4. When the confident killer realised it was a false floor, it was too late as he plummeted six meters down the pit. The Rose Killer was impaled, by steel rebar spikes that reached for the moon.

Charlotte couldn't stomach investigating the grave-pit known as room number 4, but she had to confirm that he was dead this time. She found his pierced and mangled body with the lumens from her torch. Robert held up a white Damask rose as he said with blood spewing words before he died, again, "I told you a bed and breakfast wa, err, was, was a bad idea.”

“Yes, you did, but I knew you were alive all this time and that this was a sure way to get you to surface, but I couldn’t have done it without my “silent partner” as she gazed at the figure hiding in the dimly lit corner of the unfinished structure.

Pringle stepped out from the shadows and holstered his pistol as he signalled to his squad that the danger was over.

“Our plan and patience paid off. Thank you for agreeing to lure your husband out. You are the bravest woman I ever met, Mrs Rose.”

 

The End


Submitted: November 25, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Sharief Hendricks. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Serge Wlodarski

Nice twist at the end. Well done.

Wed, November 25th, 2020 6:04pm

Author
Reply

Thanx sooooo much Serge

Appreciate you reading and commenting as always Sir ...and I am glad you liked the twist....

Wed, November 25th, 2020 10:53am

bloodman

Good suspense. Well done.

Wed, November 25th, 2020 7:37pm

Author
Reply

Thanx sooooo much Bloodman...

I am always so excited when I see you read my story and left a positive comment !

Thanx again !

Thu, November 26th, 2020 12:58pm

Joe Stuart

Well done, Sharief. This is excellent work, and another well thought out plot with a good twist at the end. I was thinking as I read this that you don't really need my advice any more. You have got the dialogue spot on most of the way through, but I saw a few phrases that ought to have begun with capitals even though they were part of a larger sentence. The phrases that stood out to me in this respect were: "don't be stupid, Charlotte ...", "what’s wrong, Dave, ...", and “how is this possible?”. In each case, these phrases began a sentence that appeared in the middle of a longer sentence. The missing capitals might, of course, just be typos, in which case you can ignore this comment.
You probably didn't know this but 'all be it' is actually one word: 'albeit'. It means, 'even though.'
I notice that you often use inverted commas to highlight phrases such as "damages" and “bad idea”. You used these phrases in their correct sense so the inverted commas were a needless distraction. It's where you use a phrase for something other than its literal meaning that you use inverted commas. For example, 'The lady went to "powder her nose",' is a polite way of saying the the lady went for a pee. Hence the inverted commas.
These are just tiny details, Sharief. I really like your writing style and your grammar is already well above average. Most important, I thoroughly enjoy your stories.

Wed, November 25th, 2020 9:32pm

Author
Reply

Hi Joe

I am so overwhelmed by your amazing comment....

The fact alone that you think I don't need your help anymore is such an incredible and confidence boosting statement...that just fills me with gratitude...

Please do not stop Sir, as I believe this is a permanent learning journey that I have started on and I am sure that I still have MUCH to learn and that you and the other generous Booksie writers still have much to teach and share of your bountiful experience and knowledge....and I wish to learn as much as I can !!!!

Thank you so much for spotting the errors...I wish I was advanced enough to say..."well yes, Joe, those missing capitals were just typo's" but that wouldn't be true, hahahahaha...

And as for the spelling of albeit, that's another thing I learned now...I am always happy to learn these little subtle English words and phrases, as it is not my first language...
Thanx again Joe !
I will make the corrections shortly including the inverted commas...

As for the story, well I really enjoyed writing it, as I tried for the first time to put a twist within a twist...and it seemed to have worked...

Thanx for everything Joe, it is really appreciated and well received !

Thu, November 26th, 2020 1:16pm

Celtic-Scribe63

A classic story with a good twist in the tail
As Joe has mentioned, Your writing has come on leaps and bounds and reads really well. Your grammar is excellent, as is your storytelling. A real professional finish.
Great work.

Thu, November 26th, 2020 7:08pm

Author
Reply

Thanx soooo much CS-63

That means more than U know.... especially coming from an established and talented writer as yourself...who I have been so fortunate to learn so much from...

Your generous and informative comments not to mention the time that you have extended to me and my short writing journey has had an incredible influence on my understanding of writing....

Thanx again ...I am soooooooo happy !!!!

Thu, November 26th, 2020 12:56pm

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